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Catholics for Choice Condemns New Vatican Document on Gender, Reproductive Rights, and Human Dignity

April 8, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 8, 2024
Contact: Ashley Wilson, Strategic Communications Advisor
Phone: 202-294-4081

Catholics for Choice Condemns New Vatican Document on Gender, Reproductive Rights, and Human Dignity 

WASHINGTON — Catholics for Choice, which serves the pro-choice Catholic majority, released the following statement from President Jamie L. Manson, M.Div., in response to the Vatican’s release of a new document Dignitas Infinita: on Human Dignity.

“It is breathtaking to me that a document that took five years to produce clearly did not take the time to encounter and listen to the communities that it speaks about so definitively. Yet again, a group of all-male, celibate clergymen are telling women and gender-expansive people that their lived experiences are not real or valid.

“I am hurt and angry on behalf of women – who have had abortions, who have dealt with violence in their homes, who reject the rigid gender norms imposed on us by the church – and LGBTQIA+ people, specifically trans people. It is clear to me that the women and trans people who continue to identify as Catholic — despite documents like this completely disregarding our experiences — only do so because of a deep love for our faith and its traditions. It is devastating that our leaders do not offer the same respect and love in return. This constant invalidation of our lived truths does profound spiritual harm and makes us feel powerless.

For all the talk of this document prioritizing the need to end violence against women, Pope Francis still does not seem to realize how the church exerts enormous, life-or-death power over the bodies of women and gender-expansive people. Catholic doctrine on abortion, contraception, and pregnancy has forced countless women, many of them the poorest of the poor, to give birth, even if they are rape victims and or facing high-risk pregnancies that could kill them. Forced birth is also violence against women, and there is no way around that. How does this treatment of women respect human dignity?

The root of the problem is that Pope Francis and all Catholic prelates still do not believe that women are equal to men. I long for the day that our hierarchy will reckon with the ways the church’s teaching has created physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual violence against women. It is not enough for Pope Francis to pat himself on the back for listing harmful ideologies like church teaching on abortion or gender theory alongside more agreed-upon issues like poverty, war, or violence against women. First, our leaders must examine the ways in which the teachings of the Catholic church play a role in creating or enforcing women’s suffering.  

The fact that Francis would choose to release this document in the middle of the Synod on Synodality undermines the process and calls into question whether the Vatican is interested in the listening and dialogue that it claims. As Catholics for Choice has noted previously, the Synod made no attempts to hear from the stories of Catholics who have chosen abortion despite the reality that a high number of Catholics have abortions. That’s why Catholics for Choice delivered a booklet of abortion stories to the Synod office last fall. That booklet included both empowering stories of autonomy as well as heartbreaking stories of very much wanted pregnancies that went wrong. It is a scandal for the Vatican to make blanket statements about situations that are morally and medically very complex.

“As Catholics, we are called to recognize that all people are made in the image and likeness of God, and God created us as rational beings who can initiate and control our own actions (para. 1730). The best way Catholics can honor human dignity is by honoring the sanctity of conscience. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that we are ‘obliged to follow faithfully what [we] know to be just and right’ (para. 1778). Today’s document directly contradicts those fundamental teachings.

We don’t buy that women who choose abortion and Catholics who support abortion rights are ‘evil’ as this document suggests. If Pope Francis spent a fraction of the time encountering people on this issue as he does on others, we believe that he would also begin to see the complexities. Today’s release only further emboldens us to make sure that the Vatican hears our stories.”


Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to a person’s well-being and respect, and affirm the capacity of all people to make moral decisions about their lives.